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2011 in tech policy: predictions for what’s ahead

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The 112th Congress was gaveled into session today. Seems like a good time to discuss what we can expect on the technology policy front in 2011.  I went back and read my inaugural post on Agent Genius from last year setting out predictions for 2010.  I was pretty good at nailing issues that were in the mix and talked about plenty in Washington last year.

Only a couple, the National Broadband Plan and Network Neutrality saw any real policy making action. As a result, many of the perennial tech policy issues will find themselves on the policy making plate again this year.  So let’s get to it, here’s what we’ll be talking about in Washington this year.

There’s a new Sheriff in town

Well, that is a little dramatic…at least there are new players in the majority in the House.  Republicans take control in the new congress which will shift priorities and tactics a bit.  In the House, most tech policy issues are deliberated in the House Energy & Commerce Committee now chaired by Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan.  Most tech policy wonks predict that we can expect to see a lot of oversight hearings. The House will want to examine the FCC’s network neutrality order, the distribution of $8 billion in broadband grants under Recovery Act’s stimulus plan among other things. While it’s unlikely that any of these actions will actually be overturned by legislation, the specter of oversight hearings can slow the taking of any future regulatory action.

Privacy and Data Security

As more and more personal information finds it way online and businesses find new ways to collect and use that information, pressure builds for comprehensive data privacy legislation. The closing days of 2010 saw a flurry government reports on privacy from the Federal Trade Commission and the Commerce Department.  Expect to see more hearings, more discussion and possibly real policy making action in the privacy arena in 2011. While I’m discussion privacy I’ll make a plug for a great new resource from NAR, the Data Security and Privacy Toolkit was produced to educate real estate associations, brokers, agents and MLSs about the need for privacy and data security policies and to help them draft and implement such policies. This is a really useful resource that I highly recommend.

Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission took action on net neutrality just before Washington closed up shop for the Christmas holidays. This order will almost certainly be challenged and likely by both ends of the political spectrum.  Consumer advocates feel the FCC didn’t go far enough and broadband providers think they went too far. Meanwhile, a new generation of net neutrality issues will arise such as how the issue is adapted for mobile devices and traffic management for the increasingly growing streaming video market.

Why Does This Stuff Matter Anyway?

Whenever I talk about tech policy issues with REALTORs I always remind them that as huge consumers of technology and broadband services, decisions made in Washington about how this critical digital infrastructure operates will have significant impacts on how the business of real estate is conducted today and well into the future. I know that AG readers are a tech savvy bunch that is why I’m here to explain and hopefully discuss these issues as they arise.  I look forward to an sharing an exciting 2011 with all of you.

Photo by uniquefrequency on Flickr via CC license.

Melanie is the Senior Technology Policy Representative at the National Association of Realtors. That means she lobbies Congress and Federal Agencies on technology policy issues of importance to the real estate industry. In her pre-NAR life Melanie has been a practicing attorney and a software start-up executive. Like any native Californian, Melanie loves good wine and bountiful farmers markets.

Austin

Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home

When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?

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Looking at the bigger picture

(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).

That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).

They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.

“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?

With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.

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aging housing inventory

aging housing inventory

The average home age is higher than ever

(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.

With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.

Prices of new homes on the rise

Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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Housing News

Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?

The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.

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zillow move

zillow move

Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes

(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.

Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.

So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.

1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues

It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.

Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.

2. Two major media brands emerge

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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